This morning, we had our Shih-Tzu put to sleep. We had her for 12 years; she was just shy of 20-1/2 years old. She wasn’t really a dog, but a person that expected to be treated like a princess. So we did.
Last weekend, we had decided it was her time, and it hit me really hard. the worst part was knowing after memorial Day weekend it would be the exact time. Knowing was the worst … thinking it was her last day, her last night.
Merry and I discussed it and said it was time for a while, me being in denial. She wandered about like a pinball more often than finding her blind little way, and we had her in diapers since around the holidays. We were even feeding her baby food, a mixture of powdered rice and jars, since she had a rough time picking up food with her teeth. They hadn’t been really cared for since she was 16 … then again, we had no idea she’s live this long and cleaning was pretty traumatic for her.
But after discussing all the possibilities, I finally came to grips with the situation, and Merry was relieved, as she didn’t want me to “hate her” if she took her in one day and Lady didn’t come back. I was still a wreck. However, Merry quadrupled her meds, and she was young again — VERY relatively speaking, of course.
All last week, I slept on the couch so I could be near her when she got restless, stopping her from getting stuck behind furniture. We cuddled a LOT, which for her means I was her warm pillow and a place to put her chin. Fine by me. She had a few good days left in her, and I’m glad we didn’t take that away from her. I think we needed that, too.
She was eating better — even solid food of all kinds, mostly people food, mostly by hand. She seemed to find her way around, much less upset when she ended up in a corner. We washed her, and even was able to remove a few recent mats and long hairs. Some days her posture was better than it had been for months. I even went for a tiny, 10-foot walk with her on the sidewalk in the back yard. We sat on the front porch, back deck, library, and above all made her comfortable.
But she was restless on and off some days, and cried when we changed her, especially the last couple days. She couldn’t sleep and wouldn’t really eat or drink late yesterday or this morning. Her smell indicated something very wrong for some time, and it became really noticeable just today.
So she got a well-deserved reprieve for a week, we got to say our good-byes in an everyday life sorta way, and she found ultimate rest just at the time we were all ready.
But this last week, starting the Sunday before last, was a period of growth for me. I had a lot of feelings, and the pain made me feel alive. I spent a lot of time away from my desk, and my saddening memories and thoughts of the future was an encouragement to live in the present. Carpe diem meets finding eternity in the small moments of where we are, here, now.
A lot of theological buzzings came forth in an urgent way, such as my own mortality and the mortality of all those I love. The nature of the soul … and the soul of an animal. The finiteness of experience, and my ever-present longings to relive other moments, sometimes to the point of letting slip by what’s in front of me, unappreciated.
This was a spiritual wake-up call. I’ve found more balance inside and outside my head. I finished the railing, painted the accent wall in the library (burgundy), and took Pashy for a few walks.
And I will find balance between cherishing her memory and going on with the ebbs and flows of everyday life as she would expect.